PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It is a day Pittsburgh will never forget. Tuesday marks two years since 11 lives were lost in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in United States history.
“All those feelings come back today. And they really never have gone away and they will never go away,” said Stephen Cohen, New Light congregation co-president.READ MORE: North Hills Vs. Woodland Hills Football Game Canceled Due To COVID-19, WPIAL To Decide Forfeit Or No Contest Status
Although today marks two years since the tragic events that took place at the Tree of Life Synagogue, so many — not just here in Pittsburgh, but around the world, and especially those of the Jewish faith — feel like no time has passed.
“It seems like yesterday. It doesn’t seem like two years,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.
This is an emotional time for many. People are dropping off flowers, messages and supporting one another. It’s been two years since the shooting at Tree of Life. 11 ppl. were killed. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/G99euCh3iA
— Lindsay Ward (@LindsayWardTV) October 27, 2020
“Cleaning up in the building, sometimes you see a picture,” says Alan Hausman, who is the vice president of the Tree of Life congregation. “There’s some Facebook websites where every once in a while, something will show up with a photo with them and you think of great memories. As long as you have the memories, the people still live on.”
Outside of the Tree of Life, there were many people dropping off flowers and signs that say “Stronger Than Hate.” Some were even holding each other close in hopes of trying to heal from this tragedy.
At 9:54 Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill Peduto, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and a handful of others stopped, went silent and reflected.
— Lindsay Ward (@LindsayWardTV) October 27, 2020
“Light can wash out darkness. Love can overpower hatred. On this spot that we stand we saw it happen,” said Peduto.
Two years after the attacks, fencing still surrounds the Tree of Life, adorned with fresh flowers, notes and small stones.
“There’s always interesting things and you have to remember that just because I don’t understand why somebody left an item, it obviously had a very personal meaning to that person,” says Tree of Life congregation director Barb Feige.
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Maddie and Brad Lewis, who live in Lawrenceville, often think of Tree of Life but felt they needed to make a deeper connection today.
“Be here and walk around and spend some time remembering,” said Brad Lewis.READ MORE: Pa. Governor Tom Wolf Announces Plan For Mitigating Climate Change Effects
“We were both heavily impacted by it. So, I think it’s a great day to remember, and to cherish those loved ones and remember those lives lost,” said Maddie Lewis.
Therapy dogs Cooper, Nelly and Jewel-Lee greeted mourners at the 10.27 Healing Partnership tent before many walked across the street for silent prayers.
Look at these 3! @Center4Victims is here in Squirrel Hill with the 10.27 Healing Partnership to provide comfort as people stop to pay their respects at the Tree of Life synagogue. Meet Cooper, Jewel-Lee, and Nelly. ♥️ pic.twitter.com/PVnaibSK6S
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) October 27, 2020
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year, the way people are gathering to remember has changed. Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life will host a virtual commemoration ceremony tonight at 7 p.m.
Mayor Peduto says before planning this year’s commemoration in the middle of the pandemic, the city did reach out to each family who lost loved ones and the greater Jewish community. He says there’s a lot of hate out there right now, and is asking people to reflect on how to be better.
“What this is about is the loss of eleven neighbors whose lives were stolen from them,” Mayor Peduto said.
Over the weekend, a prayer service was held, hosted by a group of religious and community organizations, and was streamed on Facebook.
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They lit a candle for each victim – Rose Mallinger, Richard Gottfried, Melvin Wax, Joyce Fienberg, Jerry Rabinowitz, Irving Younger, Daniel Stein, Cecil and David Rosenthal and Sylvan and Bernice Simon.
“We have to value life above all else. And so our services have been virtual and we’ve been getting together and we’ve been trying to make this as meaningful as we can,” said Rosanne Levine, Tree of Life member and ambassador.
If you want to take part in this year’s commemoration, click here.
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We will forever remember the 11 victims of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation, Congregation Dor Hadash & New Light Congregation who we lost 2 years ago today on October 27, 2018.
— Tree Of Life Congregation (@treeoflifepgh) October 27, 2020
“We’re on a road, and we’re trying to heal, and perhaps someday we’ll reach a point in that road where all this makes sense,” Cohen said.